How to Become an Accountant

What To Do Now? Accountant Career Training

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Accountants are known for their attention to detail, love of numbers and accuracy, and ability to analyze problems. If you have these qualities and have been in a different career, you might want to consider retraining as an accountant.

Career Advice: Accountant

What career skills and attributes does it take to become an accountant? Someone who is patient, careful, and accurate while working with numbers can be successful at the tasks accountants take on. Are you interested in tax law, analyzing the story behind the numbers, and looking for patterns? The need for accountants is predicted to grow faster than average in the coming years--even in today's challenging economy--because everyone from individuals and small businesses to large corporations will need help organizing their financial data, managing their taxes, and successfully meeting their business goals. With a variety of specialties from which to choose, you could work in private practice, with a small group, or as part of a larger organization.

Improve Your Skills Through Online Accountant Training Courses

Even if you have been working in a different career, you can improve your skills and enjoy a new profession through retraining and education. College and online accountant training courses are available to provide the knowledge and competencies you need to succeed in this economy. Typically you need a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree or special certification is sometimes preferred. An understanding of computer software can be a real asset. Through retraining, you can learn to analyze and prepare data, conduct a budget analysis, resolve tax issues, and protect clients during audits. You need to be able to work both individually (to look at the data) and as part of a team (to communicate the data). If the idea of working with details, data, and numbers appeals to you, you just might enjoy working as an accountant.

Career Outlook

  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2014, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $73,670.
  • Educational requirement for accountants: bachelor's degree in accounting
  • Major fields of accounting:Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services
  • Percentage of self-employed accountants: 10 percent
  • Accountants employed in 2012: 1,275,400
  • Accountants working in federal, local, or state government: 100,550
  • Accountants working in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 323,180
  • Top paying states for accountants: District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts
  • Typical benefits for salaried accountants: health and medical insurance, 401k plan, life insurance, paid annual leave
  • Popular certification: Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Typical college coursework required for CPA certification: 150 semester hours
  • Number of parts in Uniform CPA Examination: Four
  • Percent of CPA candidates who pass examination on the first try: less than half
  • Expected job growth 2022-2022: 13 percent
  • Number of new jobs expected to enter field 2012-2022: 166,700

BLS Accountants and Auditors, Accountants and Auditors
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors, May 2014 Wages